Chicago (IL) – There are very few of us who haven’t told our parents at least once that we will become astronauts when we are grown up. Unfortunately, real life appears to be getting into the way of this goal most of the time and even worse, there are not many organizations in need of astronauts flying into space. If space is your passion and you are playing with the idea of becoming an astronaut, here is your opportunity, if …
… you match the long list of requirements. Chances are that, if you can cover the requests of the European Space Agency (ESA) you are an already successful individual who not only is on the forefront of at least one science field, but someone who also has a passion or flying “high-performance” aircraft. And, of course, you have to be European and own a passport of one of EU’s 17 member countries.
Let’s just assume that you are the “exceptional, highly motivated, flexible, emotionally stable and gregarious” individual with strong communication, interpersonal and team skills, that you have a masters or preferably doctorate degree in a natural sciences field as well as well as a “minimum of 1000 hours” of flying experience in “various high performance aircraft,” how would your daily job look like?
Just like in any job, you will have to work up your way to the top and the eventual goal of traveling to the International Space Station. The job description mentions that the selected individual will “participate in the ESA Basic Training Programme”, but it includes a range of support and administrative work, such as the communication with the crew onboard ISS, the review and verification of procedures, development support of new procedures, support of family members of astronauts during launch and landing of spacecraft and the representation of ESA at events.
“If assigned to a mission”, this is, of course, what we traditionally imagine as being an astronaut. ESA says that the new astronaut will serve as a board and flight engineer, operate, maintain and repair Columbus and other ISS systems, operate “experiment facilities and scientific experiments from a broad scientific spectrum including physical and life sciences”, act as “operator and / or specialist on various robotic systems” and “perform robotics and extravehicular activities.” Postflight, the astronauts will provide a detailed mission report and participate in debriefings to provide “lessons learnt”.
Applicants are to provide some personal information, contact details and a private-pilot medical examination certificate until June 16, 2008. Within 24 hours of submission, ESA will reply with a login details to fill in a detailed application form. The organization said that it will select a short list of candidates from here and send them through a program that includes two stages of psychological and professional aptitude evaluation, a medical evaluation and a formal interview.
The successful candidate will be announced in 2009 and will participate in training in Porz-Wahn (Germany), Houston, Star City (near Moscow, Russia), Tsukuba (Japan) and Montreal (Canada).
This is ESA’s first astronaut selection campaign since 1992.